Luigi Laghi, MD, PhD, Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology specialist. As clinician-scientist, his CV is focused on biomarkers for the innovative management of gastrointestinal (GI) cancers. He pioneristically addressed inherited colorectal cancer (CRC), and underlying types of genomic instability, with focus on DNA mismatch repair defects and ensuing Microsatellite Instability (MSI). Contributing to introduce MSI in clinical practice, he defined its relevance as stage-dependent predictor of better survival due to the decreased likelihood of metastases. He actively supervises the Hereditary Cancer Genetics Clinic for GI cancers at Humanitas Clinical and Research Center.
Moving from the immunogenicity of MSI CRC, he addressed the density of tumor infiltrating immune cells as non-clonal biomarkers of disease progression, clarifying the relevance of lymphocytes and macrophages in stage II and III CRC, respectively. Unraveling their interaction with disease progression and chemotherapy, the original results shed light on the prognostic and predictive role of these cells.
Looking for tumor biomarkers in the microenvironment of GI cancers, he also traced non-canonical neoplastic cells exploiting epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) to invade the nearby tissues, acquiring a mesenchymal phenotype while sharing the genetic abnormalities of cancer cells. His work showed increased levels of mRNAs of EMT factors in the blood of patients with CRC and pancreatic cancer (PC). A “liquid-biopsy” test, exploiting these increased levels (European Patent, 13197367.9), is currently under development for the diagnosis of PC and CRC.